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Setting the Foundation: Understanding the Importance of Kitten Kindergarten


When someone adopts a puppy, it is normal and even expected that the puppy will immediately start some sort of training program so that it learns how to behave in various situations, but how often do we hear of this happening for kittens?

Four kittens playing on and around a scratching post

 

As people are learning more about cat behavior, Kitten Kindergarten is slowly growing in popularity.  But what is Kitten Kindergarten and why should you consider it for your kitten?


First of all, what is Kitten Kindergarten? Kitten Kindergarten is a series of classes that you can attend, online or in person, with your kitten where you will work on important skills that your kitten will need to become a resilient, confident cat.  Every kitten kindergarten series is different, but generally you will want to teach socialization with other people and cats; husbandry techniques such as accepting handling, injections, pills, nail trims, and tooth brushing; clicker training; carrier training; and wearing a leash and harness.  In my Kitten Kindergarten series, I also like to talk to the humans about nutrition, environmental, and physical needs to ensure their kittens will be set up to live their best lives.

 

Why is Kitten Kindergarten something you should consider?  When kittens are under 4 months of age, they are busy learning about the world and figuring out what is a threat and what isn’t.  When a kitten is exposed to a new situation in a controlled environment and there is a positive association to that situation, the kitten learns not only that new things don’t have to be scary, but these things in particular are “good things”.  It creates a kitten that can experience new things without becoming stressed out by them. 


Maincoon Kitten hiding under a chair

Stress in cats often leads to behavioral issues like aggression and house soiling, commonly cited reasons for adult cat surrenders. While there isn't extensive empirical data on the direct benefits of Kitten Kindergarten, anecdotal evidence suggests its positive impact. Shelters that have implemented Kitten Kindergarten programs report increased adoption rates for participating kittens and decreased return rates for adult cats who have completed the program. By providing early socialization and positive experiences, Kitten Kindergarten sets the foundation for well-adjusted and resilient cats, potentially reducing the likelihood of future behavioral challenges and improving the overall welfare of cats in our communities.


Orange Kitten wearing a blue shirt sitting in the grass

In conclusion, Kitten Kindergarten offers a proactive approach to nurturing the development of our feline companions. By investing in early socialization and training, we not only equip kittens with essential life skills but also lay the groundwork for a harmonious relationship between cats and their human families. While the empirical evidence may be limited, the testimonials from shelters and pet owners speak volumes about the potential benefits of these programs. As we continue to advocate for the well-being of our cats, the value of Kitten Kindergarten should be considered for shaping a brighter future for cats everywhere.


 

 

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